Bird Flu Season and what to do about it

Bird Flu Season and what to do about it

Bird Flu Season and what to do about it

For us, here at Titan Incubators, we are experiencing Bird Flu Season - but what even is it? We thought that it would be helpful to chicken (and other birds) owners to give a run down of what Bird Flu is, what are the signs and symptoms and what can we do to help prevent its spread. 

IMPORTANT TO NOTE: From Monday 29th November, it is a legal requirement for bird keepers across the UK to keep their birds indoors to limit the spread of and eradicate the disease.

What is bird flu? 

Bird flu also known as Avian Influenza or HPAI H5 is a virus just like the flu which humans get except is has adapted to suit the host: birds and poultry.

There are two forms of avian influenza: low pathogenicity (LPAI) and high pathogenicity (HPAI).

The most common, low pathogenicity avian influenza is mostly harmless, and infected chickens react with general flu/cold-like symptoms. Highly pathogenicity avian influenza is extremely contagious and kills approximately 90% of all chickens that catch the disease.

What are the symptoms?

As pointed out by the British Hen Welfare Trust there are many symptoms which can be caused by Bird Flu so it is important to look out for them. If you are worried about any of your birds showing these symptoms please seek support from a vet. 

*please remember that many of these symptoms can be due to other things.

  •  swollen head
  •  closed and excessively watery eyes
  •  lethargy and depression
  •  recumbency and unresponsiveness
  • incoordination and loss of balance
  •  head and body tremoring
  •  drooping of the wings and/or dragging of legs
  •  twisting of the head and neck
  •  swelling and blue discolouration of comb and wattles
  •  haemorrhages on shanks of the legs and under the skin of the neck
  •  loss of appetite or marked decrease in feed consumption
  •  sudden increase or decrease in water consumption
  •  respiratory distress such as gaping (mouth breathing), nasal snicking (coughing sound), sneezing, gurgling or rattling
  •  fever or noticeable increase in body temperature
  •  discoloured or loose watery droppings
  •  cessation or marked reduction in egg production 
  • suddenly finding one or more birds dead

What can we do about it?

Luckily, we can keep bird flu at bay and stop it from spreading by a few measures to keep yourself, your birds and others by:

  • washing your hands often with warm water and soap before and after handling raw poultry
  • use different utensils for cooked and raw meat
  • make sure meat is cooked until steaming hot
  • house or net all poultry and captive birds to keep them separate from wild birds
  • cleanse and disinfect clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with poultry and captive birds
  • reduce the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry and captive birds are kept, to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products, and use effective vermin control
  • thoroughly cleanse and disinfect housing on a continuous basis
  • keep fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all farm and poultry housing entry and exit points
  • minimise direct and indirect contact between poultry and captive birds and wild birds, including making sure all feed and water is not accessible to wild birds

Can Humans catch it?

Yes, humans can catch Bird flu but it is very rare. NHS website says Bird flu is spread by close contact with an infected bird (dead or alive) such as 'touching infected bird, touching droppings or bedding, killing or preparing infected poultry for cooking'. However, you can't catch bird flu through eating fully cooked poultry or eggs.

NHS website states:

The main symptoms of bird flu can appear very quickly and include:

  • a very high temperature or feeling hot or shivery
  • aching muscles
  • headache
  • a cough or shortness of breath

Other early symptoms may include:

  • diarrhoea
  • sickness
  • stomach pain
  • chest pain
  • bleeding from the nose and gums
  • conjunctivitis

It usually takes 3 to 5 days for the first symptoms to appear after you've been infected.

More information can be found here:


If you suspect any type of avian influenza in poultry or captive birds you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. In Wales, contact 0300 303 8268. In Scotland, contact your local Field Services Office. Failure to do so is an offence.

If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77). Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find.

More information can be found here: